Al Ain's stature "demands" success, says Boss coach Zoran Mamic after AGL title triumph

Matt Jones 22/04/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Zoran Mamic says the stature and history of Al Ain demands that titles be won regularly after the Croatian crafted a first trophy for the club in a barren spell lasting nearly three years.

The Boss banished the feeling of an empty 32 months without a trophy, however, by thrashing Al Nasr 4-0 on Saturday to lift a first Arabian Gulf League title in three years.

It was a 13th top-flight UAE title overall – extending their record to six over Al Wasl and Al Ahli (now Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club), both of whom have seven titles apiece.

It was a first trophy for Mamic in the Garden City – since he took over from compatriot Zlatko Dalic in January 2017. And it is a triumph that will have given him huge satisfaction and lifted a weighty burden that perhaps has loomed over his tenure so far.

The Boss bossed the AGL from 2012-15, during which they won three of four titles, but they had been left empty-handed the last two years as Ahli and Al Jazira tasted glory.

The 2015 Arabian Gulf Super Cup was the last piece of silverware they claimed in August 2015, and Mamic knows that is too long a gap without success for a club of Al Ain’s stature and history.

“Al Ain is a big club. They need to be champions and winning titles and I am very, very happy. This is what I talked to the players about before the game today,” said Mamic after the Nasr match.

Zoran Mamic is hoisted high by his players.

Zoran Mamic is hoisted high by his players.

“From the beginning of the season we lose only one match. It’s a problem it’s not a long league, only 22 games, so you cannot make too many mistakes.

“We didn’t do this and at the end I think we deserve to be champions. We show the best football, score the most goals and I am proud of my players and the club. Everybody brings something to the success, down to the people who think about the pitch and our clothes.”

Mamic celebrated winning the AGL crown by dining with friends and family after the match, while he gave his players a day off on Sunday to celebrate a near flawless league campaign.

But they still have the President’s Cup in their sights. They last lifted that in 2013/14 for their sixth title, while defeat to a poor Jazira side two seasons ago will still be on many of the players’ minds.

The Boss are also through to the knockout stages of the AFC Champions League and Mamic insists there won’t be too much rest for anyone.

“We are still not at the end,” he added.

“I told them (before the game) we still have three competitions and we need to be serious and respect all our opponents. Today we can celebrate and be happy, tomorrow we rest and then we prepare for Shabab Al Ahli (the sides meet at Jazira’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Wednesday’s President’s Cup semi-final).

“It will be a double preparation day (Monday) as we prepare for them, they are also in good shape but we believe in our quality. I don’t think tonight too much about Al Ahli, from tomorrow I will concentrate on them.”

23 04 uae champions

Despite Saturday’s success, the players are also not ready to relax, with Boss talisman Omar Abdulrahman insisting they are hungry for more silverware.

“We have other competitions that are very important to us, starting with the President’s Cup. It is a wide-open tournament for all of us and we will all be at the top of our focus to win this precious title,” said the 26-year-old maverick.

“This competition is important, and there is also the Champions League at our door. Now we think about the President’s Cup and then Asia.”

Although he has his heart set on what would be a glittering treble, ‘Amoory’ did stop to congratulate everyone associated with Al Ain on the title triumph.

“I congratulate the Al Ain nation everywhere and our big fans on the new title, this is the harvest of a full season of the players’ efforts and that of the management, the fruit of a lot of work between everyone,” said the man named Asian Player of the Year in 2016.

“The season has been tough this year, and all our matches have been very difficult. Everyone is playing very hard against us, and everyone wants to win the league.”

Most popular

Al Wahda coach Laurentiu Reghecampf urges fans to stick with team after Al Ain are crowned AGL champions

Matt Jones 22/04/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Al Wahda coach Laurentiu Reghecampf.

Laurentiu Reghecampf has urged Al Wahda fans to stick by the team after their Arabian Gulf League title dreams were extinguished on Saturday.

The Clarets were downed 3-2 by promoted Ajman in Abu Dhabi, which ended their aspirations of a maiden league triumph since 2010 – although Al Ain’s 4-0 thrashing of Al Nasr meant they would have been crowned champions whatever the result at Zayed Sports City Stadium.

They were fighting a losing battle heading into the penultimate round of fixtures, but the end of the road for their title dreams would still have hurt the Romanian and his players, who have put up such a stern title challenge this season.

The Clarets possess the second-best scoring and defensive records in the AGL and have won the second most games (13). Unsurprisingly, however, they trail the champions in all those categories, so it stands to reason that they deserve to finish as runners-up behind the imperious Boss.

Reghecampf said in defeat to the Orange Brigade: “We lost focus to Ajman, I warned against wasting chances. This happened in the game.”

One bright point for the visitors to the capital was victory assured Ayman Al Ramadi’s team’s survival in their first season back in the top-flight following promotion last term.

Wahda will now turn their attention to the President’s Cup, with Reghecampf’s side taking on Al Wasl in the semi-finals at Al Ain’s Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday.

“Our focus is on the President’s Cup and I wish everyone to stand by the team during this period,” added Reghecampf.

The Pro League Committee, meanwhile, has announced the dates for the final round of AGL fixtures, which will take place next Saturday and Sunday.

Relegated Hatta host Ajman on Saturday, while the second game of the day pits Sharjah against Dibba Al Fujairah, who know they will finish in the bottom four and face a relegation play-off with the third or fourth-placed team in First Division League no matter what the result.

Four games take place on Sunday, with all four kicking-off at 19:20. Second-bottom Emirates Club must beat Al Nasr if they are to avoid automatic relegation, while third-bottom Al Dhafra will be looking over their shoulders as they travel to the champions – with a point or win likely seeing them avoid go down automatically.

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club host Wasl and the Abu Dhabi derby sees Wahda host Al Jazira.

Most popular

Zoran Mamic finally emerges from shadows of Zlatko Dalic and Cosmin Olaroiu at Al Ain

Matt Jones 21/04/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Al Ain are champions of the AGL.

Al Ain are once again champions of the UAE, and it feels strange to admit that it’s been a long time coming.

Their 13th top-flight domestic title – one that sees them extend their record as the UAE’s most successful club over Al Wasl and Al Ahli (now Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club) – arrived courtesy of Saturday’s 4-0 hammering over resurgent Al Nasr.

It was a first trophy under affable Croatian Zoran Mamic – whose, up to now, barren tenure has been in stark contrast to the trophy-laden era of compatriot Zlatko Dalic and his predecessor Cosmin Olaroiu.

Three trophies were hoovered up by the now Croatia national team coach in a glorious three-year spell in the Garden City, while Romania’s Olaroiu won back-to-back titles from 2011-13, as well as 2012’s Arabian Gulf Super Cup.

However, it’s taken a little while for the seeds of further success sown by Mamic to blossom – the 2017/18 AGL title is Al Ain’s maiden trophy in 32 months, since the Arabian Gulf Super Cup was claimed in August 2015, ironically against Nasr.

It’s a gap in glory almost unimaginable to fathom when you consider the silverware tucked away in the club’s swollen trophy cabinet.

It’s been impressive to see Mamic stamp his own mark on the club this season, one which has for too long a period had the hulking shadow of Olaroiu, as well as the less frightening one of Dalic hanging above it.

Al Wahda’s chase had been impressive, as had the all-too-brief pursuit offered by Al Wasl, a rising AGL force but one that need to head back to the drawing board to combat a formidable return to form from the new champions.

Although Wasl have waned, Al Ain have been simply electric in their quest to return to the summit.

Only one game was lost this season – and even February’s 3-1 defeat to Sharjah was answered emphatically as Wahda were crushed 6-2 in the ensuing fixture.

Mamic has received huge returns from his formidable front line – an area of the field that has stymied the Boss in their relatively barren years.

Whereas the deadly Douglas had previously proved pretty prolific in front of goal, his confidence was shattered by a penalty miss in the AFC Champions League final second leg against Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, with Al Ain defeated 3-2 and Douglas never recovering.

Replacement Marcus Berg is ice cold, underlining his superiority with a hat-trick against Nasr that carried his side to the title and him to the top of the AGL scoring charts.

Egyptian schemer Hussein El Shahat has proved an exquisite addition, the final piece of the puzzle, while youngster Rayan Yaslam has developed tremendously this season.

This return to success and all achieved without the withdrawn Omar Abdulrahman, whose season has been blighted by poor form, injury and indiscretion at international level.

The title has finally returned to the Hazza bin Zayed Stadium. And if Amoory’s aura can likewise be rekindled, then who knows what more can follow next season.

Most popular